A winter memory from 2 years ago…
The snow had piled up like a thick blanket over the pavements. Everything around me, touched by winter, had all completely turned white. The clear, bold skyscrapers that once stood in the center of the city of Rochester now was a misty blur of white and grey. The streets was now empty and deserted. Temperatures had dropped below freezing and my face felt like ice. I had only been in New York for several months as a missionary for the church and this sudden turn of cold was something unexpected and unfamiliar.
I walked carefully to make sure that I would not slip on the snow. Another gust of wind swept across my face as I pulled my jacket tighter in. The icy wind attacked our shivering hands as we knocked on a worn-out door that we had just passed. An African-American woman opened the door. Seeing 2 young girls cold, wet and tired, she let us in. I quickly stepped in. As I looked up I noticed that the emptiness of the living room – scattered with a couple chairs and a couch. The broken windows were just enough to keep most of the chill out. We followed the grandmother in as she limped towards the couch before struggling to sit down.
We sat down on the couch across and finally she spoke up. In her thick accent, she introduced herself and began her story. She was a refugee that left Africa to escape the political unrest. While escaping, she had been shot resulting in permanent knee impairment – which explained why she limped. She took her grandchildren with her hoping to provide a better life for them, unfortunately her own children had not been able to escape and were killed in the chaos of fleeing. She turned her loving eyes to the kitchen door, where a little girl had just walked in. Instinctively I turned around too. A little girl, no more than 7 years ago, dressed in pink and braids skipped in with arm full of coloring books. Her mischievous smile seemed familiar – and I realized why – it reminded me of my own little sister. My heart immediately warmed up to her.
The girl sat next to her grandmother, curiously observing what 2 strange girls were doing at her home. As I looked at the beautiful girl and her sweet grandmother, I felt something…different…something warm. Despite having no burning hearth or fireplace; no heater; no baked cookies or decorations, but somehow I felt an undeniable sense of peace. I prayed that the short message we prepared of God and his infinite love would bring joy and comfort to this beautiful family on this winter day.
The hour passed quickly and it was soon time to leave. As I stood up, I felt a gentle tug at my heavy black coat. Surprised, I looked around to see two beautiful, innocent eyes staring up at me. I gently smiled back, knelt down and extended my arms out into a hug.
She leaned forward and asked, “Are you going to come back to visit?”
I patted her head, “I don’t know yet, but if I do what would you like me to bring?”
She grinned and replied without hesitation, “I want some peanut butter. We don’t have any at home.”
I felt my heart sank. The smile on my face faltered. It was then I realized…this girl was hungry. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of all the wonderful things a 7 year old girl could ask for – dolls, new clothes, dresses…but all she wanted was a jar of peanut butter. I thought back to the jar of peanut butter in my pantry at home.
I squeezed her tiny figure and said the only thing I could, “I promise I will when I come back.”
As I look at my life right now, I recognize how truly blessed I am. I have so much to express gratitude for. Since Christmas is approaching, somehow this beautiful, simple memory keeps coming to my mind. Not wanting to disregard this subtle prompting, perhaps as a reminder of what I should be improving on, I want to express gratitude for some of the things in my life: I am grateful for always being able to have a jar of peanut butter at home. I am thankful for food on the table everyday. I am grateful I have a beautiful family who loves me. I am grateful for Christmas because it reminds me of what matters most.
I pray and hope that this Christmas season, we will all have a chance to reflect on what we are grateful for. When we make a conscious effort to open our eyes to recognize the beauty and wealth around us we have the spirit of Christmas with us everyday.
Whenever I start my gratitude count, I can’t help but think of her. The true miracle of this simple experience was the little girl. Her words and smiles had engraved deep into my memory. I had been taught a lesson that I would never forget.
Our Paleo Biscotti is one of our blog’s most popular recipes. We decided to recreate this special treat for the Christmas season inspired by our favorite Christmas candy: Ferrero Rocher. The popular European “Ferrero Rocher” candy is filled with Chocolate-Hazelnut Butter and coated in biscuit and nuts – and likewise we dipped our chocolate biscotti in melted chocolate and crushed hazelnuts. This is super delicious and rich – making it a very decadent treat. If you are not dairy free you can totally try dipping it in white chocolate too which would be beautiful! This is one of the easiest desserts I can whip up because it all in in bowl; and the dough it easy to work with. Honestly the most tedious step is simply waiting for it to cool, which gives me plenty of time to do other things! Who doesn’t love an easy, tasty, healthy treat that looks like you spent ages on?
An easy, vegan, paleo, gluten free, dairy free, oil free treat for your loved ones to enjoy this Christmas!
Ingredients – makes 1 log (8-10 slices)
- 1 batch of our Chocolate-Coconut Walnut Biscotti (omitting the coconut flakes and walnuts)
- 1-2 tbsp Coconut Cream
- 1-2 tbsp Tapioca starch
- Topping: 1/2 bag of dairy free chocolate chips, 3/4 cup whole hazelnuts
How to Make:
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Make one batch of our Paleo, Vegan, Chocolate Biscotti. Add in coconut cream and tapioca starch (to help with binding).
- Transfer the dough onto a prepared parchment lined baking pan. Using your hands, shape the dough into 1 single long log (2.5″ wide).
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Take out the biscotti and allow it to rest for 1 hour. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice into 8-10 pieces. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
- Once the biscotti has cooled completely, place the chocolate chips into a microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds.
- Dip each piece into the chocolate and coat in crushed hazelnuts. (I found that it was much easier to use a spoon/knife to slather the melted chocolate on rather than dipping).
Coconut Cream: you can substitute this with coconut oil
(This Post is featured on HealthyVeganFridays, WeekendPotluck, TrafficJamWeekend, Thank Goodness Its Monday, Inspire Me Mondays, Busy Mondays, Motivation Mondays, CraftasticMondays, Two Cup Tuesdays, Tutorials Tips Link Party, Turn It Up Tuesdays, Hearth and Soul, Allergy Free Thursdays)